As I type out the title to my very first blog post my mind begins to do what it does best. Just the words “mental health” send my thoughts into a frenzy and my poor brain tries to keep up with the countless sensory inputs it is receiving from the rest of my body. Are you seriously going to make your first post about mental health? I can feel my heart’s pace quicken. People are going to get scared away and never want to read your posts again. I notice myself biting my lower lip, a nervous habit, and my palms get sweaty to the point that rubbing them continuously against my pajama shorts seems futile.
This internal dialogue is not uncommon. It happens every minute of every day. There are two voices and they have names. One is very shy yet persistent. She is always looming in the background of my consciousness, ready to point out flaws and fears. The other is vastly more outgoing. She is optimistic about the world and uses reasoning as her main weapon. This is an ongoing and invisible battle. At this moment, while my fingers glide over the keyboard, the latter is winning. If our story can inspire even one person then it will be worth it.
I have received plenty of diagnoses from an array of mental health professionals. At first, it was social phobia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Then it was Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), PTSD, and a dissociation spectrum disorder. After that I got slapped with GAD, PTSD, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID. Formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder). As a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I knew exactly what each of these diagnoses meant. As much as I had studied the symptoms of each I was not prepared for them to be attached to me. I guess there was a part of me that knew there was something more lying beneath the surface of typical everyday worries, but I was not ready to hear it.
Fast-forward two years after intensive weekly therapy. I feel like there is still much work to be done while simultaneously rethinking the validity of those diagnoses. The thing about therapy is that it really does get worse before it gets better. Diving into past experiences broke down walls that were built a long time ago and the burst of emotions that followed were difficult to process. I began experiencing depersonalization, the feeling of being detached from one’s body, at an increasing frequency. The flashbacks got worse and the panic attacks were constant. The shy voice in my head got louder and angrier.
(Enter Japanese fashion)
It sounds so silly. The thought that Japanese street fashion brought a ray of hope in the darkness of my mental health seems almost ridiculous. How can a cute dress with its bell-shaped skirt and images of cakes and teacups push back thoughts of self-loathing? How can a collection of plastic hair clips arranged carefully on a pastel wig help quiet a nagging voice that threatens to remind me of all the painful memories bubbling somewhere in my consciousness? How can posting a picture of delicate finger sandwiches and pastries on Instagram dull the stinging edge of social anxiety? Many of us in the j-fashion community find ourselves pondering these questions without an answer. Finding those answers may be a journey and I am OK with that.
These past two years have seen desperation and darkness and they have seen self-love and self-care. The ebb and flow of opposing emotions is one with which many are familiar. In a society where mental health issues are demonized, I will not let my story become a deep pit that keeps me from doing what I love. I will not let my past be a thing of shame. Transparency is the key word. As I continue with this blog I hope to share my story. I hope to share the good days and the bad ones. I hope to incorporate j-fashion as a means to cope into my posts with plenty of event reviews and coordinate posts. Happy things will come of this blog and in the process I hope to break down the stigmatization of mental health within the world of j-fashion and maybe even beyond the community.
Stay strong and remember things can get better.